When you start to approach the middle of your career it’s often a time for reflection. And when it comes to this time of your career, most professionals will admit to a regret or two about decisions they made throughout their career so far, and we’re not talking about that embarrassing moment at the staff Christmas party.
What we really mean are those key decisions that have a huge impact on your career and impact on your career path. These decisions can not only affect your job title and salary, but also your work-life balance and happiness.
Everyone regrets different things. Depending on what you set out to achieve, your goals and aspirations will be different to someone else’s and therefore so will your missed opportunities. But there are some regrets that almost all professionals can relate to and have usually experienced themselves.
Before you get in too deep, it might be time to take a look at your own career path and where it’s leading. Maybe it’s time to make some changes and really consider where you are headed:
big regret 1 – not listening to yourself
Taking advice and listening to others about your career can be really useful, but to follow advice without really listening to yourself and knowing what you want to achieve can, in fact, put you on the wrong path altogether.
It’s tempting to play it safe and take advice from someone else who is happy with their life. This approach takes the risk out of making your own decisions and almost puts the blame on the advice giver.
In fact, many mid-career professionals who didn’t follow their gut, or take a risk when it came to their career, regretted it massively. By following the crowd they actually ended up doing something they didn’t love, and, what’s worse is they were stuck there. You don’t have to take it to the other extreme and throw caution to the wind, but it is a good idea to take the occasional risk to achieve that career goal in the long term and increase your overall happiness.
big regret 2 – not dealing with toxic situations
Conflict is a fact of life, and even if you try to avoid it, you will have to face it at some point during your professional and personal life. To get through this many people adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as choosing to ignore the situation, pretending like it isn’t happening (when really it’s still going on) or approaching the situation aggressively and without control.
One of the best skills you can learn as a professional is how to deal with conflict positively. There isn’t one answer on how to do this, but more often than not the resolution will involve sitting down and addressing the situation personally. In some instances you may also have to talk to your boss or supervisor. The most important thing to do is to tackle the issue. By not addressing it you can face additional stress and allow a toxic situation to become much worse, which could even begin to affect others around you.
Try to learn how to defuse a situation, and how to stand up and say what’s right. This is a crucial skillset that will be profitable in both your work and personal life.
big regret 3 – not enough time for me
It might be an obvious one, but it has to be said, very few professionals (or anyone in fact) look back on their life and career and wish they worked more. Most people wish they worked less and spent more time with their family, friends or travelled the world.
It’s important to remember at every stage of your career that your job isn’t everything. There are so many other things in your life that need your time and energy and are more rewarding. Take time off to see the world and spend quality time with your family, and let your boss know that you do have a family you want to see so you can’t stay late. Being a multifaceted and caring person is a quality they will appreciate and understand, and if you don’t speak up about it you might regret it.
Everyone has different regrets about their career and takes different career paths, but what is certain is that you will regret something – no one is perfect. Our advice is to listen to those professionals who know what it’s really like to have regrets and try to cultivate a clever and well-adapted career that prioritises your happiness. It's in your hands!
Posted: Monday, 15 May 2017 - 1:30 PM